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Shotgun Start: Previewing the Players Championship

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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TPC Sawgrass / Getty Images

It's tournament time! The PGA Tour heads back to Florida for the unofficial "fifth major" — the Players Championship at famed TPC SawgrassHere's a tournament primer to get you prepared for the week.

The course: If you're going to be the home of the "fifth major," you better be worth your salt. Thankfully, TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course has lived up to its billing as one of the toughest tests in golf over the years. Water hazards are plentiful, as are some of the trickiest green complexes on tour. As Hunter Mahan said on Tuesday, "You really have to play this golf course from the green all the way backwards." Even though it ranked as the 23rd-most difficult course on tour last season, the Stadium Course has a risk-reward finish that could be one of the best in golf. As we've seen in years past (See: Perks, Craig), the par-5, par-3, par-4 closing stretch can make or break the tournament on Sunday afternoon. At just over 7,200 yards, Sawgrass doesn't require you to be long off the tee to succeed. Four of last eight Players Championship winners lead the field in GIR for the week, while three of the last seven winners lead the field in driving accuracy. There's a reason why Rory McIlroy pulled the 5-wood out of the bag for a 2-iron. Length just isn't that important. If anything, it's more important that you're on the correct side on the fairway so you can attack the accessible pin positions during the tournament.

The schedule: The tournament runs Thursday-Sunday. It'll be broadcast on the Golf Channel from 1 to 7 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday; and on NBC from 2 to 7 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.

The field: The Official World Golf Ranking will be well represented at the Players Championship, with 44 over the top 50 making the trip. All of the big names are here this week (except Bubba Watson, who decided to skip out on the tournament to spend time with his wife and infant son), including Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahan, Jason Day, Nick Watney, Sergio Garcia ... and the list goes on and on. This is a major championship-quality field.

The video: Check out some of the memorable moments from the Players Championship's history.

Your turn. Who are your picks for this week? Swing away!